Engineering Barriers: An Empirical Investigation into the Mechanics of Downward Mobility.


  • Bonnie Slade York University



This paper explores the regulation of professional engineering and how the licensing process itself impacts the labour market position of immigrant engineers. Guided by the social ontology and method of inquiry of institutional ethnography, this paper provides a map of the licensing process for engineering in Ontario and shows how immigrant engineers are constructed as exceptions to the process, despite the fact that immigrant engineers outnumber Ontario engineering graduates. Having to first go though individualized academic and work experience assessments, they also require one year Canadian work experience. Research has shown that it is difficult for immigrant engineers to successfully complete the licensing process. This paper details the administrative work processes that cause delays and difficulties for immigrant engineers, and discusses the labour market implications of not having a professional licence.

Author Biography

Bonnie Slade, York University

Bonnie Slade is a Post Doctoral Fellow at York University. Her research interests are in women’s studies, migration, the social construction of knowledge, and the sociology of work. She is the author of “Highly Skilled and Under-theorized: Women Migrant Professionals” in R. Baaba Folson (Ed.) Calculated Kindness: Global Economic Restructuring and Canadian Immigration & Settlement Policy (2004: pp. 102-116) and co-author of “Hell on my Face: The Production of Workplace Illiteracy” with Nancy S. Jackson in M.L. DeVault (Ed.) Life, Power, and Social Inclusion in The New Economy: People at Work (2008: 25-39).